The Irish Wolfhound is the largest greyhound dog breed in pursuit of mobile prey and is also the tallest dog in the world. One of the first mentions of these animals dates back to 391 AD, when the Roman consul Aurelius wrote about the “great surprise and delight” experienced by the inhabitants of Rome and the aristocracy at the sight of seven wolfhounds brought by legionnaires from the campaign.
In Ireland, these dogs were highly prized for their fighting qualities, fearlessness and tremendous strength. In battle, the Irish wolfhound was used to knock a rider off a horse, and, often on the ground, this very rider was together with the horse. They hunted big game, Irish elk, wolf and bear with them.
Irish law in the Middle Ages allowed only royalty and nobles to have an Irish wolfhound. Moreover, the number of dogs that could be kept directly depended on the height of the title held.
Irish lore says that folk hero Finn McCumhill had at least 500 Irish wolfhounds, of which two were favorites – their names were Bran and Sciolan. They happened, it is said, due to magic and magic. But a lower-class nobleman could have no more than two dogs.
Irish wolfhounds were often used by nobles and kings as an expensive gift. Moreover, this gift was often supplied in an expensive collar made of pure gold or silver. One of the most popular and beloved Irish stories, tells about a dog named Gellert, which was presented to Prince of Wales Llewelyn by King John of England in 1210.
One day, a dog protected the Prince of Wales’s son from a wolf by killing him while his father was out hunting. Returning from the hunt and seeing the dog in blood, he thought that the dog had killed his little son, and hacked him to death with a blow of the sword. However, he subsequently discovered the body of a wolf and an unharmed baby, which had been smeared with the blood of a dead predator. In honor of his loyal dog Gellert, the prince erected a memorial tomb in Kernarvon, Wales – it can be seen today.
Hunting for large elk and wolf in Ireland played a huge role in the decline in the population of Irish wolfhounds. Since they were practically exterminated, the dogs simply ceased to breed, which is why the breed was even on the verge of extinction for some time.
The breed could have disappeared if Major Richardson had not paid attention to it. In the middle of the 19th century, he wrote a book where he suggested that the Irish wolfhound and mountain deer were of the same origin (today such a ridiculous assumption will cause laughter). He began breeding Irish wolfhounds, basing his breeding program on the Glengarry reindeer herders, and achieved considerable success. Later, George Augustus Graham, another breeder, added Tibetan Mastiffs, Greyhounds and Great Danes to the breeding program.
The Irish Wolfhound is a really huge breed. They are the tallest dogs in the world and some of the largest dogs on the planet. The limbs are long, the chest is pronounced, wide, voluminous. The physique is muscular and powerful. The transition from the forehead to the eyes is clearly pronounced on the head. The ears hang down the sides of the head, the tail is longer than average.
Despite its huge size and frightening appearance, the Irish wolfhound is extremely affectionate, loyal and loving with his family. He is away from the family for a long time and he cannot be the owner. Children will ride it like a pony, you can be sure of this, as your pet simply will not be able to resist the child’s charm.
He loves children very much, loves to play with them and just loves to be in the circle of children’s attention. However, children should not be allowed to ride a dog like a pony, as the joints of these animals, including the spine, will be injured. And given that the Irish wolfhound breed, in principle, has many health problems and the skeleton in particular, it is better to take care of their health.
By the way, they also live for a short time – only 6-8 years, maximum 10, but very rarely, and no more. The Irish Wolfhound breed of dog has an average level of energy, but this does not mean that he can lie at home on a pillow all day. This is absolutely not the case. They need an active lifestyle to maintain their large body in good shape, since muscles and joints require movement and load, but the load is correct. In this regard, let us once again remember that children should not be allowed to ride on the back of an animal shouting “horse!”, But they will definitely try.
The Irish wolfhound treats strangers normally, and if they are family friends, then seeing the location of the owners, the dog will treat them with friendliness. Their combative nature can mainly be manifested when faced with another dog, although they may well be friends with dogs without conflict. Small pets can be perceived as potential prey, due to the rich past of the hunter, so cats should be introduced to them at an early age, and early socialization should be carried out.
The Irish wolfhound breed is not very often used as a watchdog, as it is not very territorial and does not voice too actively. However, they may well be aware of themselves in this capacity, and are quite capable of learning.
In addition, the huge size of the dog and its intimidating appearance can make an intruder change his mind. After all, it is simply unrealistic to remain unharmed after a fight with such an animal – moreover, an attacker can simply remain a cripple. In any case, it is a loyal companion and reliable protector.
Dog breed Irish wolfhound normally perceives the learning process and lends itself to education. They need physical activity, and the training process is essential food for the mind.
You should be sure to teach your pet basic commands, and there should be a lot of emphasis on obedience in the face of distractions. This is necessary so that you can stop your dog in any conflict situation, since a fight with any other dog (with rare exceptions) in the park will most likely end very badly for the enemy, if not fatal.
It cannot be said that the Irish wolfhound is distinguished by special aggression and bloodthirstiness, but one should not discount his deep past as a hunter and fighter.
Coarse curly coats need to be brushed once or twice a week. While walking in a park or forest belt, the Irish wolfhound can enthusiastically climb the bushes, and therefore after a walk, be sure to examine it for ticks.
Ears need to be cleaned 2-3 times a week, eyes daily. The claws are trimmed three times a month, the animal is bathed once a week.
The Irish Wolfhound dog breed has many health problems, including:
- sensitivity to anesthesia;
- dysplasia of the hip joint is a hereditary disease;
- elbow dysplasia is a hereditary disease;
- liver shunt;
- heart disease – Irish wolfhounds can be susceptible to heart disease, primarily heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy;
- fibrocartilaginous embolic myelopathy;
- progressive retinal atrophy;
- gastro-dilated Volvulus, or gastric torsion, or volvulus among the people.